Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Using Photomerge and masking to create a better group portrait, part of Photoshop for Photographers: Compositing.
So far we have taken a look at how we can composite or combine together multiple frames where there isn't a lot of variation. Yet what about those situations where you have different expressions and composition like we have here in these two photographs. I was taking some pictures of my daughter who is here in her PJs when we were camping with some friends. You can see that in one photograph she's right here, yet in the other photograph I completely missed her. So what I do is I want to build a photograph out of both of these images in order to get good expression and also good composition out of these two frames.
Well to do that, we'll go ahead and select both of the files in Adobe Bridge. Hold down the Command key on a Mac, Ctrl key on Windows, then click on the images that you want to work with when doing this technique. Next we'll navigate to the Tools pull down menu here, we're going to select Photoshop, then we're going to choose Photomerge. Now Photomerge is typically reserved for working with panoramic photographs, maybe for architecture or landscape pictures, but it also works great with people photography as well.
Here the layout we will use is Automatic. We'll be using these two files. We'll have Photoshop attempt to blend the images together and then there's no need to remove the Vignettes or to change the Geometric Distortion because the images look fine. Next we'll click OK in order to have Photoshop do its thing, and here what's going to happen is Photoshop is going to do some magic, it's going to auto-align the layers, which means it'll change a composition then it'll also attempt to blend these layers together, and here you can see that it did an incredibly good job.
We'll go ahead and just zoom out a little bit and press F to go to full screen mode so we can see the whole image. If I Shift+Click on this mask, you can see that what it's going to do is show me the before and then the after. If we turn off the visibility of one of the layers, you can see how it brought in detail from this side of the image in one layer, and then it brought in detail from the other side of the image in the other layer. It's almost as if Photoshop knew that I wanted to include my daughter Annie there, so it included her here. And what's great about using Photomerge is we can use this to build new compositions.
We can also use this in order to be able to combine multiple expressions. So if we click in the top layer here, and if we target the mask you'll see brackets around the mask showing you you've clicked into that. We could change the expression, say on a little Gracie right here. I want her facing the camera. So here we will use our Brush tool and what we'll want to do is we'll want to paint with white. So I'll press the right bracket key key to make my brush bigger. Next, make sure I've white as my foreground color, in regards to the Opacity I'll take this all the way up to 100, and then I'm going to go ahead and just paint in this version of Gracie here.
Now because these layers have already been automatically aligned, this is going to be pretty easy to accomplish. And that's good news for us because that's really helpful when it comes to trying to blend in this new part of the image. Here I'll make my brush a little bit smaller, as I seek to blend this part of the photograph in, and now we're able to combine this new expression with these little girls and all of their wonderful energy, and action and motion, which we have built out of these two frames. And in a sense, I kind of think of this frame almost like an impossible picture because really this image didn't exist by itself, rather we built it.
So we not only improved the composition but we also improved the overall expressions and so you can use this technique especially in those situations when you have group shots and you need to try to align and then blend in multiple expressions. All right, well last but not least here let's go ahead and just crop this photograph. So we press this C key or click on the Crop tool, make sure Delete Cropped Pixels is turned off if you've that option in your version of Photoshop. And then we'll go ahead and just click and drag these points down, or these handles, and we'll do that to tighten up this overall composition.
A lot of times if you have your subject extending all the way to the edge of the frame it makes that frame feel more energetic or lively. So that's what I'm going for here. All right, well there it is. We have looked at how we can use Photomerge and also custom masking in order to improve composition and expression.
- Combining facial expressions from two images
- Creating a better group portrait with Photomerge
- Removing a subject from the background
- Changing the scale of a subject
- Enhancing the color and tone of a composite image
- Masking together multiple exposures
- Filling in background gaps
- Correcting overexposure
- Replacing the sky in an image
- Creating reflections
- Building in shadows